I’ve seen When Rivers Meet perform twice this year. During the first show back in the spring, they were surprised when awarded Band Of The Year by the British Blues Awards. They are the only band to ever win this three times in a row.

The performance they delivered that night in Birmingham showcased their talent. Grace and Aaron Bond make for a superb live band. When you watch them, you can’t help but enjoy it because they truly are enjoying it too.

The challenge for a band like theirs is to capture that live energy in the studio.

This is where WRM stands apart because, as seen in “Aces Are High,” they consistently deliver this energy in all their records.

If you’re new to the group, the opening track “Infected” serves as a strong introduction, boasting a massive groove and slightly primal sound, though they’ve polished up their hooks. Similarly, “Seen It All Before” exemplifies their signature style, featuring Aaron’s filthy slide guitar sound throughout, complemented by what can only be described as passion.

“One of the singles, “Play My Game,” grooves, and Grace Bond’s outstanding vocals shine through.

There’s another string to their bow to their music, literally given Grace’s fiddle-playing, the Americana feel, as showcased in the acoustic track “Golden.” The first verse, sung by Aaron with harmonies from Grace, carries the authenticity of a folk song.

By and large, this opening quartet encapsulates the essence of the album. It’s a simple formula, but they execute it brilliantly.

The title track is one of the primal, fuzzy ones, with Grace’s vocals sounding especially wistful. It’s truly something special.

This album also reflects a desire to expand their musical toolbox. “Trail Of Avalon” is a departure, but a welcome one. Aaron takes the verses, and Grace handles the chorus, creating a captivating contrast.

However, if you’ll forgive the pun, the heart of this music lies in the bond between the two artists. It’s evident in their songs, particularly in “Perfect Stranger,” which recounts how they met.

I recall reading that the duo defined their sound after watching Tyler Bryant open for Guns N Roses. “Bryant and his Shakedown” would be proud of “The Secret,” and so would, you imagine, When Rivers Meet, by extension

“By Your Side” is both a departure and a highlight—a genuinely tender, soul-filled duet that serves as the WRM manifesto. On the other hand, “5 Minutes Until Midnight” is more of their signature hard-rocking stomp.

“I’m not ready to die” exclaims Grace in a catchy hook line, and the band has never sounded more alive.

When Rivers Meet are a shining example that hard work and talent can elevate even the most independent of artists to the top. “Aces Are High” continues their ascent, and it’s another winning hand.

Rating: 9/10

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